Textbook power-running execution on LeSean McCoy's 48-yard touchdown run was the exclamation point of a superb ground game for the Buffalo Bills Sunday.
The Bills attacked downhill off left tackle to outnumber the Raiders at the point of attack, and McCoy showed his breakaway speed when he got to the second level of the defense.
Vlad Ducasse pulled from right guard and blocked safety Shalom Luani. Tight end Khari Lee blocked linebacker NaVorrow Bowman. Fullback Patrick DiMarco blocked off Bruce Irvin on the edge.
"As a team we just said, 'Let's tote it,'" DiMarco said. "Let's just run the ball. That mentality. ... And it's pretty easy to block for 25. Even if I don't have the greatest block, he makes you right. He's a super-talented guy. He's gifted, man. He's definitely a joy to block for, and he's a great person too to top it all off."
The Raiders entered the game ranked 19th in the NFL in run defense. They left town ranked 22nd after the Bills gouged them for 166 yards on 37 carries.
Buffalo did almost all of its work between the tackles, avoiding the risk of running wide on edge-wrecker Khalil Mack.
Their 11 gap runs, with guards pulling, went for 84 yards. That included an 18-yard counter, led by Richie Incognito and DiMarco, that started the TD drive that ate up 7:16 of the third quarter.
The zone game was good, too. The Bills ate up 5:56 of the fourth quarter, which killed any Raider comeback hopes. Buffalo ran eight times against eight-man Oakland fronts. Four inside zone runs went for 17 yards on the drive.
Here's our unit-by-unit grading of the Bills' win based on video review (on a scale of 1 to 5):
Running back (4.5): McCoy got 33 touches for 173 yards, including 151 rushing. He had showed great vision hitting the "back door" of a bunch of zone runs. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is wisely taking full advantage of his receiving skill. McCoy already has 38 catches, a pace that would give him 87 for the season. He had 50 last season and 32 in 2015. DiMarco showed why he's arguably the best lead-blocking fullback in the league. He played 28 snaps.
Quarterback (3.5): Tyrod Taylor made some nice plays from the pocket. He hung in and found Andre Holmes on the 6-yard TD. He hung in on a tightening pocket on the 24-yard, third-down throw to Brandon Tate. He hung in when the pocket was squeezed on the 36-yard sideline pass to Holmes. He slid to his left and was accurate on the third-down conversion to Jordan Matthews. And he had his fifth game of the season without a turnover, which Sean McDermott no doubt loves.
Receivers (2.5): The wideouts contributed 11 catches – double-digits for the second straight week. Andre Holmes' size, at 6-4, makes him a nice target for Taylor. He made two pro catches along the boundary. Zay Jones caught three passes, had no drops and took a big hit from Bruce Irvin. A step forward for the rookie.
Offensive line (4.5): Jordan Mills and Cordy Glenn held up against Khalil Mack. Center Eric Wood had an outstanding game. He dominated Oakland nose tackle Justin Ellis.
Defensive line (3.0): The Bills' defensive line had a tough assignment getting push against one of the stoutest offensive lines in the league. And defensive chief Leslie Frazier was not in a gambling mood against an explosive receiving corps. The Bills blitzed just seven times in 49 pass plays, the fewest this season. Oakland gained only 27 yards on those plays. On a key third-and-8 play with the score 20-7, Frazier threatened David Carr with six men but rushed three and dropped eight. Carr was goaded into a harmless checkdown. Frazier had to be smiling about that one.
Kyle Williams was the Bills' best D-lineman. He bulled Gabe Jackson to blow up one run. He was stout vs. a double-team on a third-and-2 stop. He had three hurries. With Marcell Dareus gone, Adolphus Washington started and played 38 of 65 snaps. Cedric Thornton played 23.
Linebackers (3.5): Matt Milano was in the right place at the right time on his 40-yard fumble return for a TD. His athleticism is an asset in coverage. He played 52 snaps (80 percent). Preston Brown did his Luke Kuechly impersonation on the interception by Micah Hyde by getting to the deep middle in Cover 2 and deflecting the pass.
Defensive backs (4.0): The Bills were assignment sound despite missing two starters to injury. The explosive Raiders hit only one pass of more than 21 yards. That speaks to no major coverage busts by subs Shareece Wright and Trae Elston.
Hyde has his diving interception technique down pat. He picked off his fifth pass. Tre'Davious White shadowed Amari Cooper most of the game and did not get burned. He had perfect trail technique on the breakup of a long pass for Cooper down the right sideline. Leonard Johnson continues to show he's a heady player and a sure tackler. He forced the pivotal fumble-touchdown play. Wright got beat on a 40-yard sideline pass to Michael Crabtree but was solid in coverage. Key play: When the Bills blitzed six in the fourth quarter, Wright blanketed Crabtree for an incompletion.
Special teams (4.5): Credit Colton Schmidt with two big "pressure punts." Punting inside his own 10 in the first quarter, he hit a 4.5 hang-timer for 46 yards with no return. Late in the second quarter, he booted a 4.65 punt 50 yards out at the 1. Milano forced a turnover on a punt return. Mike Tolbert may well have been out of bounds when he recovered it, but it was impossible to tell amid the pileup on video review. Stephen Hauschka did a good job mostly keeping the ball away from dangerous Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs.
Bills three stars: 1. LeSean McCoy. 2. Tyrod Taylor. 3. Eric Wood.